Home Indianapolis Press Releases 2013 Week in Review—Hammond

Week in Review—Hammond

U.S. Attorney’s Office February 22, 2013
  • Northern District of Indiana (219) 937-5500

HAMMOND, IN—The United States Attorney’s Office announced the following activity in federal court:

Indictment

  • Lakita Lee, 35, of Gary, Indiana, was charged in an Indictment returned on February 21, 2013 with theft of government property. These charges were filed as the result of an investigation by the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General. This case has been assigned to and will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Gary Bell and Emily Cremeans.

Pleas

  • Eddie Torres, 43, of East Chicago, Indiana, a defendant in the case U.S. v Briseno et al, pled guilty before Chief Judge Philip Simon to the felony offense of conspiracy to participate in racketeering activity and conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana. Sentencing has been set for December 5, 2013. These charges were filed as a result of an investigation by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the East Chicago Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Gary Police Department, the Hammond Police Department, and the Lake County HIDTA. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David Nozick.

Dispositions

  • Thomas R. Philpot, 55, of Highland, Indiana, was sentenced by Senior District Judge James Moody to 18 months’ imprisonment, a fine of $10,000, and two years of supervised release after being found guilty at trial of the felony offenses of mail fraud and theft from a federally funded program. According to documents filed in this case, Philpot, while serving in the elected capacity of Lake County Clerk, used IV-D incentive funds received by the Lake County Clerk’s office from the federal government as bonus money for himself without obtaining the authorization of the county council as required by law. Philpot was ordered to self-surrender to the Bureau of Prisons or the U.S. Marshals Service on April 2, 2013 to begin execution of his sentence. This case was the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Philip Benson.
  • Thomas Scott Spangle, 32, of Lake Village, Indiana, was sentenced by Chief Judge Philip Simon to 84 months’ imprisonment and 15 years of supervised release after pleading guilty to the felony offense of distribution of child pornography. According to documents filed in this case, in May 2010, an undercover FBI agent working in Miami, Florida was using the peer-to-peer file-sharing program Gigatribe to download child pornography files being distributed by others online. The undercover officer browsed the shared files and observed many depictions of children engaging in sexually explicit activity. During the download, the undercover agent used a program to identify the IP address being utilized, which was later identified as belonging to Spangle. Spangle’s computer equipment was seized and a full forensic examination was conducted on each piece of equipment. The examination revealed that Spangle collected a total of 5,269 images and 504 videos depicting minor children being sexually exploited and abused. Because each video counts as 75 images for guideline calculation purposes, Spangle possessed the equivalent of 43,069 child pornography images. If played back to back, the videos in Spangle’s collection would run for 26 hours, 44 minutes, and 58 seconds. This case resulted from an investigation by members of the Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Indiana State Police, and the Lafayette Police Department. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jill Koster.
  • Martin Jonassen, 57, of Elwood, Kansas, was sentenced by Senior District Judge James Moody to 480 months’ imprisonment and five years of supervised release after being found guilty at trial of the felony offenses of kidnapping and intimidation of a witness. According to documents filed in this case, Jonassen kidnapped his 21-year-old daughter in Missouri and drove her to Portage, Indiana, where she tried to escape from him by running naked from the bathroom of their rented motel room to a nearby liquor store where she begged for help. Jonassen chased her and physically dragged her out of the store and forced her into his waiting vehicle. After his arrest, Jonassen embarked on a relentless campaign of calls and letters in which he employed manipulation and persuasion to try to get her to retract her statements to law enforcement. The government admitted evidence of that conduct at trial including numerous recorded telephone calls during which Jonassen offered cash or other bribes to her, and copies of letters Jonassen sent to the victim and others wherein he urged her (or others to encourage her) to retract her prior statements to law enforcement. This case was the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Portage Police Department. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jill Koster.
  • Victor Meza, Jr., 24, of Hammond, Indiana, a defendant in the case U.S. v Vargas et al, was sentenced by Senior District Judge Rudy Lozano to 96 months’ imprisonment and five years of supervised release after pleading guilty to the felony offenses of conspiracy to participate in racketeering activity and conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and distribute cocaine and marijuana. This case was the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; the National Gang Targeting, Enforcement, and Coordination Center (GangTECC); the National Gang Intelligence Center; the Chicago Police Department; the Griffith Police Department; the Hammond Police Department; the Highland Police Department; the Lake County (Indiana) HIDTA, and the Houston (Texas) Police Department. This case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Joseph Cooley of the Department of Justice Criminal Division and Assistant United States Attorney David Nozick.
  • Osvaldo Herrera, 23, of Calumet City, Illinois, was sentenced by Senior District Judge James Moody to 45 months’ imprisonment and three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to the felony offense of distribution of cocaine. This case was the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Joshua Kolar.
  • Nicholas Jackson, 21, of Lafayette, Indiana, a defendant in the case U.S. v Robinson et al, was sentenced by Senior District Judge James Moody to 18 months’ imprisonment and two years of supervised release after pleading guilty to the felony offense of being an unlawful user/addict in possession of firearms. Jackson, an unlawful user of and addicted to a controlled substance (marijuana), possessed a .20 gauge shotgun with an obliterated serial number. After learning that his co-defendants were arrested for a burglary, Jackson called his friend to pick up the gun so that it could be disposed of in the Wabash River. Subsequently, after an interview with ATF agents, the shotgun was located and recovered. This case was the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Tippecanoe County Police Department, and the Lafayette Police Department. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nicholas Padilla.
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